Close to 30 Web sites plan to kick off an act of "coordinated civil disobedience" next Tuesday by putting up downloads of a controversial album despite EMI's demands that the album be destroyed.
Anti-RIAA activists at Downhill Battle are leading the charge for what they call "Grey Tuesday." The Web site along with other as yet unnamed coconspirators will offer downloads of DJ Danger Mouse's Grey Album for 24 hours. The groups pitch this as a protest against EMI's attempts to stifle distribution of the album, which combines Jay-Z's the Black Album and the Beatles' White Album.
EMI has served DJ Danger Mouse and record shops selling the Grey Album with cease and desist orders. The label releases Beatles' records and doesn't want its intellectual property abused.
The Grey Tuesday backers say EMI's actions are a form of censorship against art
"Jay-Z's record label, Roc-A-Fella, released an a capella version of his Black Album specifically to encourage remixes like this one," said Downhill Battle. "Danger Mouse’s album is one of the most "respectful" and undeniably positive examples of sampling; it honors both the Beatles and Jay-Z. Yet the lawyers and bureaucrats at EMI have shown zero flexibility and not a glimmer of interest in the artistic significance of this work."
"Their actions are also self-defeating: good new music is being created that people want to buy, but the major labels are so obsessed with hoarding their copyrights that they are literally turning customers away."
We'd certainly work hard to protect our Beatles' rights too, but would think EMI would jump at the chance of pumping a new Beatles avenue. There can only be a finite number of "lost recordings" to find.
This seems to point to the record labels' tendency to run well behind the market. As consumers push barriers for the labels, the pigopolists hide behind their luxurious desks or perhaps slump over a martini poolside.
Get the mess cleared up and put some music on the market. ®